The risk of spreading Prussian Carp to area lakes has promoted the province to suspend diversion licenses from the Red Deer River to Buffalo Lake and Gull Lake.
In an email from Alberta Environment and Parks, the suspension is for five years and comes after a study of the potential risks associated with pumping,
“In March of 2018, the Operations Infrastructure Branch of Alberta Environment and Parks submitted a study to the Water Act regulator to notify them of the potential risks associated with diverting water from rivers contaminated with Prussian Carp into uncontaminated lakes,” states the email.
“If pumping were to occur, the lakes’ ecosystem health would be at a significant risk because of the potential for a direct transfer of Prussian Carp into both lakes.”
Prussian carp have made their way into waterways in Alberta and Saskatchewan. They are hardy fish that can adapt to many different habitats and are a prolific breeder. They have the potential to out compete native species for food and habitat. The Mail reported in September of this year that fisherman Gregg Blanchett had discovered the carp in the Michichi Creek and fears it may spread to other local water bodies.
Buffalo Lake is about an hour north of Drumheller and in 1985 began on a multiphase project to stabilize water levels and in 1992, an interim license was granted for the diversion of water to Buffalo Lake. This was under the Don Getty government.
While Alberta Environment notes this is a concern, water has not been pumped into Buffalo Lake since 2010 and Gull Lake since 2011. This was due to “naturally high lake levels well above the trigger elevations for pumping. With the license for pumping now suspended, water levels at both lakes will fluctuate naturally based on local conditions, as is common in lakes across Alberta.”